Tag Archives: Gentrification

Save Union Arts DC and The Disappearance of Creative Spaces


I hate writing a post like this again. A few months ago I was mourning the loss of the closest art space to me, which was Pyramid Atlantic in Silver Spring.

Now I am fearing the loss of an equally important space, Union Arts DC. Union Arts is one of the few spaces in DC which provides rehearsal space to musicians, in addition to providing artist studios. It is also a famous “DIY” venue in DC run by Luke Stewart who co-founded Capital Bop, and founded Creative Music DC. The space has hosted multiple Jazz and Avant Garde performances, but also every other genre of music under the sun.

To say Union Arts is the glue to DC’s creative community is not an understatement. It’s the truth. Right now, the space is at risk for being torn town and turned into a luxury hotel. While there has been promises for creative spaces from Cultural DC, they have been limited, and given to a group that rents  out spaces for a rather steep fee. This is especially the case with performance spaces which run into the hundreds of dollars per night.

I have performed at Union Arts myself, and some of my best performances were at this venue. It’s loss would be deeply felt, but I am not giving up.

The problem with this, is this is becoming a trend nationally. Art’s spaces are disappearing, and the truth is this is the only one of its kind in DC.

The picture in the post has information on what can be done, and I highly suggest if you live in DC, or have patronized Union Arts, to send an email to the zoning board and other officials in DC.

The End of Pyramid Atlantic Silver Spring

The Final Sonic Circuits Show
The Final Sonic Circuits Show at Pyramid Atlantic

There is a special place in my heart for Pyramid Atlantic Art’s Center in Silver Spring. Sonic Circuits, which is a local experimental music group regularly put shows on there, along with it’s annual festival. I was lucky enough to play some of these shows myself, and as such the venue remains close to my heart. I regularly spent my Saturdays there listening to some amazing avant garde and jazz performances, and maybe a couple I would like to forget.

This Saturday the last Sonic Circuits show  at Pyramid Atlantic in Silver Spring is happening, as the venue is going to be leveled to make way for condos, or apartments. I am not sure it even matters. Make no mistake, it will be like losing a second home to me, as well as many of the other performers and artists. Memories are going away with the wrecking ball.

This could be a commentary on how gentrification is ending arts venues in the DC area, because Pyramid Atlantic is not the first to go. But it can also be how art’s spaces end up being a critical part of forming communities, but also help discovering them in the first place. Sonic Circuits, and Pyramid Atlantic helped me find my community here in DC, and I will never forget that.

Pyramid Atlantic itself, the printshop, is moving to Hyattesville. Where Sonic Circuits, as a music organization goes is another question. Sonic Circuits when it started was one of the few offering avant garde music in DC. In fact it’s how I found the music myself. In truth without Sonic Circuits, I doubt I would be as active a live musician. Jeff, the organizer, often referred people to me. I was able to refine myself as a performing artist because of Pyramid Atlantic being available as a venue through Sonic Circuits.

There is a big question mark right now over Sonic Circuits in terms of where it will play. While Jeff has some ideas, in a rapidly gentrifying city where venues are closing regularly, it really is hard to say. Make no mistake, when the red building on Georgia Ave comes down, it will be taking a little piece of my heart with it, and is a blow to the music community in DC.

Either way, come out to see the final show this Saturday, the information can be found on Sonic Circuits website. I will not be playing, but help me mourn as another music venue in the DC area sees it’s end.